Education Portfolio, June 2013



Almost two decades after the end of apartheid, the Government of South Africa continues to uphold the rights of all citizens and to invest heavily in the wellbeing of its people. South Africa plays a key economic and political role in Africa, but faces many challenges, including unemployment, HIV/AIDS, crime, and corruption. USAID/Southern Africa (USAID/SA) programs seek to strengthen small and medium-sized enterprises, create employment, improve learning and job skills, improve the quality of basic education, combat gender-based violence, and promote HIV/AIDS care, prevention and treatment.

Basic Education


South Africa has succeeded in providing nearly universal access to education; however, the country still faces enormous challenges in improving the quality of education. Despite a significant investment in education, barely one in ten South African students qualify for university, and only 5% end up with a degree. Learners exiting the school system are not equipped with basic skills and core competencies necessary to succeed in the workplace, much less in a highly competitive global market. 

The overall aim of the USAID/SA basic education program is to improve primary grade reading outcomes by building teacher effectiveness and strengthening classroom and school management.   This is being accomplished through support to innovative, local interventions that have a demonstrated capacity for scale-up. The main USAID/SA program is the School Capacity and Innovation Program (SCIP), which also leverages significant private sector resources, amplifying the impact of USAID’s investment in the South African education system. SCIP is co-funded by The ELMA Foundation and J.P. Morgan and designed in collaboration with the South African Department of Basic Education.

SCIP supports local South African models or interventions that work directly with teachers and school management teams in innovative ways in order to improve their practice as instructional leaders and managers.  SCIP is aligned to the USAID Global Education Strategy (2011–2015) which supports interventions to improve learning outcomes with a focus on primary grade reading as a measure of performance.  In addition to seeking initiatives that demonstrate innovation and impact, sustainability, and scalability are key components of the SCIP program.

The USAID/South Africa education portfolio also includes a project focused on youth leadership development.

Issuing Country 

Last updated: July 03, 2013